Big Brothers Big Sisters will have a flag hoisted high to kick off Big Brothers Big Sisters Month.
The ceremony proclaiming September as Big Brothers Big Sisters Month in Nanaimo happens at city hall on Friday, Sept. 7, at 2:30 p.m.The public and supporters are invited to the proclamation, but the organization could use more than just symbolic support.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Month is celebrated in communities across Canada because of the role the organization and its volunteers play in helping children get a strong start in life.
“Mentoring is what we do,” said Jennifer Kemp, Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Vancouver Island executive director. “We’ve been doing it for over 100 years in Canada, over 45 years in the central Vancouver Island area, bringing positive adult role models together with children.”
Throughout September, the organization is on a campaign to raise $20,000, partly through its 20-20-20 fundraising initiative, which will call on 20 people to commit to donate $20 each for 20 months. Funds raised will help the organization hire an additional part-time worker to deliver Big Brothers Big Sisters services and programs in schools as part of its community mentoring program.
Kemp said the organization serves children who “fall between the gaps” – children who don’t require special education assistance or are considered high-risk, but are possibly in single-parent households or are being raised by grandparents and might not have consistent, positive adult mentoring.
“They might have been exposed to tragedy and those kinds of things, so going to school just doing the everyday normal things that we might expect from them isn’t always as easy, so we come along and bring that sounding board, that role model, that person that can kind of be there solid and consistent,” she said. “Someone who’s going to show up when they say they’re going to show up every time.”
Kemp said there are monetary returns from investing in children and that for every dollar spent, a child that grows up to become a healthy adult will inject $18 in the community through continuing education and better-paying jobs. Mentoring also helps prevent crime and other social issues that negatively impact communities.
“When you’re serving one child you’re kind of serving their whole world that surrounds them as well,” she said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters relies heavily on its volunteers and needs male mentors for about 60 boys currently on the organization’s wait list.
“We’re also trying to put the message of diversity and inclusion out there too,” Kemp said. “We’re here for anybody and everybody,” Kemp said.
To donate, become a volunteer or learn more about the organization, visit the organization’s website at www.bigscvi.ca, call Kemp at 250-756-2447 or visit the organization’s Nanaimo office at 2030 Northfield Rd.